The family of a woman who died following a standard back operation at a South Yorkshire hospital has settled out of court for a six-figure sum.
The woman, 42, an engineering student from Barnsley had been suffering prolonged pain from a prolapsed disc. She had been scheduled to have surgery but in the weeks leading up to the operation, the pain had abated.
Unknown to the woman the condition is known to be self-correcting in most cases, however, she was informed by the hospital that the pain could come back. In fear of being in pain again the woman opted for the surgery which she underwent in October 2009.
During the procedure, the surgeon pierced through the wrong disc in the woman’s back and ruptured an artery in the process. He failed to see the errors he had made and the woman was sent to recovery where she began suffering stomach ache as her abdomen expanded due to the internal bleeding.
She was pale and in pain with low blood pressure before her condition became critical. Her family were called in the early hours of the next morning to inform them she was gravely ill. To her family’s astonishment, by the time they reached the hospital, the woman had died.
Before the incident, a letter was written by orthopaedic unit staff members to the management highlighting pressures within the department. It outlined that the ‘cuts’ made were increasing the chances of patient morbidity and mortality.
During the inquest into the woman’s death, the coroner in charge requested that the police investigate the details of the case following his knowledge of the letter.
The woman’s family believe that the internal bleeding should have been spotted by the medical team caring for her.
On behalf of the hospital, a spokesperson said they were “extremely sorry for the loss suffered by the woman’s family.”
He continued: “After the patient’s death we began a full internal investigation and also sought the views of external experts. We have fully implemented all of the changes recommended by those investigations.”
The inquest will be concluded later on in the year. The hospital did not want to comment on the outstanding matters involved.
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Published 11th February 2015.